Smart People: Page 10 of 24

Continuously pursue two-way communication with citizens: Citizens help Fort Collins design its future

Like many cities in 2010, the recession hit the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. Officials didn't have a lot of money to spend revising its long-term city plan.

As then-Mayor Karen Weitkunat told The New York Times: "We could do an urban design plan, but we didn't have the money to pay for any of it. It put a reality check on what we were here to do."

But that didn't stop the city, already labeled an innovator for some of the things it has done in energy. Here's how the Times describes what happened when Fort Collins decided to rewrite the urban planning model:

"So Fort Collins reached out as it never had before, seeking volunteers and input, and, just as crucially, ideas about how to finance a new future in an age of limits. And those reaching back, including some people and organizations who had never participated in city planning, from arts groups and beer brewers to technology entrepreneurs and professors at Colorado State University, created the city's new vision of itself — an ambitious and comprehensive plan, even by the standards of bigger cities in more prosperous times.

Democratized by necessity, the process led to goals that went beyond the predictable safe streets and commerce that planners might have otherwise emerged with. In a departure from the old command-down process — planners proposing, residents disposing in public planning meetings — ideas bubbled up in new ferment."

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